November 12, 2004
The State of HSPH:
Gene Expression Profile Predicts Survival in Ovarian Cancer
Birth of Motor Neurons Connected to Spinal Cord Induced in Adult Brain
Five from HMS and HSPH Appointed to IOM
Grants Advance Research on Childhood Brain Tumors
Talking to the Public: How Can Media Coverage of Medicine Be Improved?
Proceedings of the HMS Faculty CouncilConcern about the role of the library in the 21st century, its functions with respect to the mission of the School, and the declining physical use of the library prompted HMS dean Joseph Martin, in May 2004, to request formation of a Countway Library Review Committee, chaired by Christopher T. Walsh, the Hamilton Kuhn professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at HMS. Jules Dienstag, associate dean for academic and clinical programs, reported on the committee's recommendations at the Sept. 29 meeting of the Faculty Council.
The Countway ReviewThe recommendations of the Countway committee were to modify the position of the librarian to include an individual with expertise in the area of bioinformatics; increase collaboration with the HMS community; incorporate all functions related to bioinformatics into the Countway; streamline Countway's governance; fortify the budget; incorporate Countway more directly into the academic lives of faculty and students; reconfigure the allotment of space based on the realities of the physical-digital divide; and support and increase the visibility of the historical collection.
Clinical Research TrainingWhile acknowledging the robust nature of clinical research in the Harvard Medical community, Martin said that currently a number of different clinical research training programs exist, each funded separately and with different credentialing. Students have found it increasingly difficult to distinguish among the opportunities available. In order to better integrate the programs and to standardize the training, he appointed a committee in July 2003 chaired by Eugene Braunwald, the Hersey distinguished professor of theory and practice of medicine at HMS, to assess the "overall health" of current clinical research training at HMS, with specific focus on the formal masters degree-conferring programs.
Dienstag reported on the findings of the committee, citing seven different programs in clinical research training associated with HMS, four of which confer masters degrees. The committee concluded that the masters degree programs have many strengths. However, no single entry point is available for trainee applicants interested in the choices for clinical research training at HMS, and financial support for these programs is fragile.
The committee recommended that HMS play a leadership role in clinical research education at the Medical School and its affiliated hospitals, as well as at the national level. They recommended that HMS establish a formal Program in Clinical Research Education (PCRE) that encompasses all HMS efforts in this area. In doing this, HMS should build on the strengths of its existing programs, enhance communications among existing programs, and provide trainees with optimal opportunities in clinical research. Governance for the proposed PCRE is to be led by the dean for academic and clinical programs, who would oversee a governance council comprising senior affiliated hospital investigators.
MyResidencyJohn Halamka, HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chief information officer at HMS, said that the development of MyResidency, a Web-based residency management system for Harvard-affiliated hospitals, grew out of the earlier, digital curriculum tool for the medical students, MyCourses. Noting the need for a digital presence for each step along the continuum of medical education, Halamka acknowledged that he had learned first-hand how the hospitals struggle to meet competency requirements and how all institutions must meet the compliance regulations of the federal government. He noted that different hospitals use different vendors to help achieve these ends, and that there is a vast duplication of effort (both programmatic and financial) across the Harvard Medical community.
HMS has partnered with all of the affiliated institutions to develop a digital presence that can be used by all constituencies to standardize and integrate all residency and fellowship program needs. Service has now been provided to 102 separate residency programs with close to 8,000 users. Halamka said that the economies of scale and the enhanced customer service, as well as the MyResidency product itself, far outweigh other considerations. Noting that one of the recommendations of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education was for HMS to engage in a formal process to provide a centralized means of data exchange and support, Halamka stated that MyCourses, and now MyResidency, are a part of this process. The MyResidency program is administered through the HMS Office of Academic and Clinical Programs.
Scholars in MedicineIn honor of Eleanor Shore, HMS dean for faculty affairs, the Faculty Council approved unanimously the renaming of the 50th Anniversary Program for Scholars in Medicine, the Eleanor and Miles Shore Scholars in Medicine Fellowship Program. This program, established to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the admission of women to HMS and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the School, has developed to enhance the quality and diversity of the Faculty of Medicine. Martin told the council that Shore's commitment and dedication is the heart and soul of this program and that almost single-handedly, she is responsible for its success. Shore plans to step down at the end of the year as dean for faculty affairs.
Five from HMS and HSPH Appointed to IOMThe Institute of Medicine has announced 65 new members, five of whom are HMS or HSPH faculty, bringing the institute's total membership to 1,416. Joining the IOM are Francine Benes, HMS professor of psychiatry (neuroscience) at McLean Hospital; Ronald DePinho, HMS professor of medicine (genetics) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Jim Yong Kim, HMS associate professor of social medicine and of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital; Howard Koh, HSPH professor of health policy and management; and Dyann Wirth, HSPH professor of immunology and infectious diseases.
Benes is director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean. Through examination of human brain issue and animal models, she was the first to find evidence of a miswiring of fibers in the brain's circuitry that may give rise to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Benes identified two different maturational changes that could possibly contribute to the onset of schizophrenia during adolescence, and her findings have opened up areas of research that could lead to new treatment and prevention strategies for the two disorders.
DePinho's program has strived to gain an integrated molecular and organismal view of the biological mechanisms underlying cancer, aging, and chronic degenerative diseases. He and his colleagues have defined functional interrelationships between growth control and survival pathways and provided experimental evidence for the central concept of tumor maintenance. His work on the interplay between telomeres and DNA damage and repair pathways has led to new insights into the forces driving the high rates of cancer in elderly individuals. The research has also identified telomere-based cellular crisis as a critical period that produces chromosome aberrations, particularly regional amplifications and deletions, common in carcinomas.
Kim, currently on leave from HMS and BWH, is director of the Department of HIV/AIDS of the World Health Organization. In that role, he is heading up the WHO's "3 by 5" initiative, a historic global effort to rapidly scale up antiretroviral therapy in developing countries. Kim was previously the principal investigator on a Gates Foundation-funded project to improve treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Peru, Haiti, and Russia.
Koh, associate dean of public health practice in the HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management, has centered his research on interdisciplinary aspects of cancer prevention and control, especially relating to policy and public health practice. His particular areas of interest include early detection and prevention of skin cancer, policy aspects of tobacco control, and cancer disparities in racial and ethnic minorities.
Wirth leads the Malaria Initiative at HSPH and has developed fundamental molecular genetic tools used in the investigation of malaria and leishmaniasis. She has used these tools to identify molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in protozoan parasites. Wirth is also an affiliate of the Broad Institute, where she is engaged in an effort to find new drug therapies.
Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM is a national resource for independent analysis and recommendations on health-related issues. IOM members volunteer their time on committees that engage in a range of studies on health policy.
Grants Advance Research on Childhood Brain TumorsDana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston have received two National Institutes of Health grants totaling more than $10.5 million to support the search for genetic causes of pediatric brain tumors.
The first grant, from the National Cancer Institute, provides more than $3.5 million over five years to seek mutated genes that encode protein kinases in samples of pediatric brain tumors. Coprincipal investigators Thomas M. Roberts, HMS professor of pathology at DFCI, and William Sellers, HMS associate professor of medicine at DFCI, and colleagues will use the advanced technology of the Kinome Project, a DFCI-led search for mutant kinases.
The NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is funding a longer-range project for finding and characterizing transcription factors with $7.17 million over five years. In addition to principal investigator Charles Stiles, HMS professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at DFCI, coinvestigators include Quifu Ma, HMS associate professor of neurobiology at DFCI; David Rowitch, HMS assistant professor of pediatrics at DFCI; as well as faculty members at Children's: Scott Pomeroy, HMS associate professor of neurology; Michael Greenberg, HMS professor of pathology; and Isaac Kohane, the Lawrence J. Henderson associate professor of pediatrics and health sciences and technology. Stiles says that the primary goal of the project is to create an atlas of genes that manufacture transcription factors and make it available to the scientific community.
Talking to the Public: How Can Media Coverage Of Medicine Be Improved?This workshop explains how to tell your story accurately to the press.
Nov. 18, 2004, 12:30-2:00 p.m.
Richard Knox, national medical correspondent, National Public Radio
Christine Russel, freelance medical/science writer and vice president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing
Cliff Tabin, HMS professor of genetics
Drinks and desserts provided. Please RSVP to email@example.com.